Rock/Creek Still Hollow Half Marathon, Chattanooga, TN

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August 4, 2012 by trailcats

Today Harley and I ran our first trail race together – Rock/Creek Still Hollow Half Marathon.

As of yesterday I was 80% positive I would not be able to run this race due to secondary to major ileotibial (IT) band pain. Major. I owe the IT pain to last Sunday’s 22 mile run plus trying to do a couple shorter runs this week. My only decent run after the 22 miler was on Tuesday. I finally joined my new running group, Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society (or GUTS for short)at Kennesaw on Tuesday  night. Everyone was super cool. I ran six super swift miles with some local running legends at a pace I could not have kept if I were on own. I am definitely looking forward to running with them again in a couple of weeks.

Anyhow, after much internet research yesterday, I went out to get a foam roller and did some of the Imageexercises recommended by Dr. Google. That foam roller hurts like all get out!! But from about 1pm yesterday until bedtime at 10pm I did my foam roller exercises, did stretches and iced the entire length of my IT band twice. I also took enough ibuprofen to make my kidneys contemplate failure. I went to bed super frustrated thinking I would still be in too much pain to run today.

We woke up today at 3:40am (insert yawn and snooze button here) and I was so relieved albeit a little dubious of the absence of pain. I decided to be optimistic and not stress about it until we got there and then I would give it a little test run – which it passed!

So back to getting up at 3:40. It’s definitely a little craze but I was surprised with how normal I felt once I took a shower and had my first sip of coffee. At this point I thought, maybe I could be a radio morning show personality. Or maybe not, and we keep morning wake-up calls like this to an absolute minimum. So we hit the road with our bags, coffee, snacks and nervous anticipation.

The race was held at Enterprise South Nature Park in eastern Chattanooga. We rolled in around 6am in Imagethe pitch black of morning, got a primo parking spot, got our race packets and became acquainted with the start/finish area. Harley had an Oh Yeah! bar and I took down a Hammer energy gel pre-race.Image

Two distances were run today – a half marathon and a 10k – about 380 runners total. We would all set out together on a wider trail and then at 6.2 miles the half mary’s would continue on to a single track mountain bike trail in the park.

7am. Gun goes off and we take off slowly in the middle of the back. The plan was to take it easy, especially with my knee. But it’s so hard to not pass slower runners. I really like hills. I like to go up steeper ones fast (just to get them over with), less steep ones at a normal pace, and all downhills FAST.  So without discussing it with Harley, we starting plucking off runners on the steeper parts. We took the first 3 miles, which were very up and down, pretty fast for just having started to run.

The problem with the first part of the race was that the wide trail was covered in mulch. Sounds nice I’m sure, but it’s like running on sand. I felt like every step was twice as hard as it needed to be and it made for very inefficient running. By mile 4 I was regretting going so fast at the beginning. But I told myself it would hopefully be better once we hit the single track. And it was.

As soon as we started on the single track we were behind a young couple (college?) from Chattanooga. I liked their pace so we stayed behind them from mile 6.2 until around mile 9. A few of us did. We couldn’t see anyone else on the trail, but there was a little wolf pack of us all running together. I found out that couple had been practicing on these trails for the past 2 months. They kept referencing this very steep hill up ahead. I was a little nerve and had decided I would hike up this part if necessary. By mile 8.5 or so, a couple of guys passed us and I was thinking it was time to pass our college sweethearts in front of us. So the Adams took off.

The single track was so much to fun to run on. There were some technical parts with rocks and roots and it was like running back here in Atlanta. I was just totally grooving. I caught up with another guy who had passed the wolf pack earlier and starting chatting him up. He concurred that there was a steep hill up ahead. I’m just trucking along and I turn back to Harley and ask him, I wonder when we are going to hit this hill, as I try and conserve water. He replies, “I think we’re on it!” Damn did I feel in shape! I was cruising up this mountain. It was just a bunch of switchbacks to me – slow incline – and I’m running at just the right pace. The right pace is apparently the one at which you can still hold a conversation. And I was feeling chatty. The guy in front wasn’t. So we passed him. Pluck. In running, it’s called “getting chicked” when a girl passes a guy.

Moving on. Around mile 10.5 we come up to the next person we plan to pace for a bit. He was wearing Vibram Five Fingers. He got chicked. I don’t know what came over me – that “extra reserve” some people get at the end of the race. But I had this surge of energy and I had to spend it. I took off. I didn’t even say good-bye to Harley. I was nearly sprinting with 2 miles to go. Run, run, run. I finally saw a chick ahead of me. I had a new goal: pass her. I hadn’t seen many women on the course in a long time. The college couple and another girl who passed us when we were running behind them. It also looked like we were coming up on the final stretch. The last thing you want to do is pass someone and not be able to maintain your pace, only to be passed by them again later. So once I was certain I could take her I gunned it. She said, “Good job!” Now I was thinking I could actually rank in my gender/age group. So I set sight on the only chick in front of me and went for it. After all, it was pretty much downhill from here. Got her. She too said, “Good job!” Runners are so nice and supportive of each other.

I could hear the music at the finish line and I could feel the corners of my mouth start to curve upward and I was grinning ear-to-ear when I saw all the people cheering for the finishers at the finish line. I went through and then circled back so I could cheer on Harley. While waiting for him, this woman asked me, “Are you Brian’s wife?”

“No, I’m Harley’s!”

She didn’t seem to believe me until I said we were from Atlanta. And then I saw him, the love of my life barreling down the hill.

“Go Harley!!!!” yelled a bouncing Holly.

After all that gunning I felt I was doing, he was a mere 2 minutes behind.

Rock/Creek had a nice set up afterwards. There were ice-cold wash cloths, fruit, peanuts/raisins/M&Ms, peanut butter pretzels and popsicles. They had a preliminary race report posted and it appears I was 11th overall for women. We need to check ultrasignup.com later for the actual results.

The race was followed by a shower at the YMCA, a stroll through downtown, and lunch at the Urban Spoon. I had the meatloaf and Harley had the BBQ Pork. On the way back to the car, my IT band started BARKING again. Nothing a little foam roller can’t fix!!

Harley – you’re the best running partner a girl could ask for. Color me lucky!Image

Weekly miles: Sun 22, Mon 2, Tues 6, Wed Rest, Thurs 3, Fri Rest, Sat 13 = 46

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Holly & Harley

A couple of trail running lovebirds who have their minds set on going the distance!

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